The Supreme Court has ruled that women must receive the abortion pill regimen in person, at an abortion facility, putting an end to dangerous mail-order abortions of mifepristone (brand name Mifeprex), also known as RU-486. The ruling affirms that the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) in-person abortion pill distribution requirements will remain in place, though as recently as October 2020, the Supreme Court “refused to rule on a request from the Food and Drug Administration to reinstate a rule banning the distribution of abortion pills by mail,” according to a previous report by Live Action News.
In the ruling, Chief Justice Roberts said the issue at hand was not whether or not the current requirements pose an undue burden upon women seeking abortion, but whether or not the District Court properly ordered the FDA to lift those requirements. “My view is that courts owe significant deference to the politically accountable entities with the ‘background, competence, and expertise to assess public health,’ ” Roberts wrote, adding, “In light of those considerations, I do not see a sufficient basis here for the district court to compel the FDA to alter the regimen for medical abortion.
The court’s three liberal justices — Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan — dissented.
Previously, the pro-abortion American College of Obstetrician-Gynecologists (ACOG) had sued for the requirements to be suspended for the duration of the pandemic, and U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang ruled in the group’s favor. “Particularly in light of the limited timeframe during which a medication abortion or any abortion must occur, such infringement on the right to an abortion would constitute irreparable harm,” he wrote in his ruling. “By causing certain patients to decide between forgoing or substantially delaying abortion care, or risking exposure to COVID-19 for themselves, their children, and family members, the In-Person Requirements present a serious burden to many abortion patients.”
Yet overturning the FDA requirements also put women at serious risk of harm, as the FDA itself argued in its appeal.
“Defendants will also suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a stay because they will be unable to enforce requirements that FDA has determined, based on its experience and scientific expertise, are necessary to ensure safe use of Mifeprex,” the appeal read. “Requiring patients to obtain Mifeprex at a clinic — as has been required for years — does not deprive women of the ‘ability to make a decision to have an abortion.’”
Though the abortion industry has repeatedly tried to claim the abortion pill regimen is completely safe, this is far from true. Potentially serious side effects have been well-documented, including uterine hemorrhaging, viral infections, sepsis, and death. At least 24 women have died, with thousands more adverse events, though the true number is likely to be even higher, as not every state requires abortion complications to be reported. The abortion pill has been shown to carry a four-times greater risk of complications than a first trimester surgical abortion. Women are put at greater risk when gestational age is not first properly assessed, when a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy is not ruled out, and when Rh factor is not tested (which can affect future pregnancies). Without an in-person visit, it’s also much easier for a woman to be coerced into an abortion against her will.
The simple reality is that the abortion pill is dangerous, and the FDA should remove it from the market altogether. But for now, at least, the Supreme Court has brought an end to mail-order abortions, a move that is likely to save some women’s lives.
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